There is nothing in the world that makes my blood boil like the concept of ‘not trying’. ‘Not trying’ is the very hallmark of contempt: for yourself and for others. It is also a sign of weakness. One For The Money may be one of the most contemptuous, weak films to come out Hollywood in quite some time. It is also one of the worst films you will see in 2012, and we’re barely a month into the new year.
To call One For The Money a film would be a disservice to all films, including the annual bulls***t churned out by the likes of Michael Bay and Tyler Perry. It’s flimsy premise isn’t even worthy to be the pilot of a really bad TNT, USA, or Lifetime television show. It is a piece of work that simply doesn’t need to exist beyond the crappy section of what was your local bookstore. (It is based on the first of a series of “novels” written by Janet Evanovich.)
A lot of blame can be placed on star-producer Katherine Heigl, who — after turning in a decent turn in 2007’s Knocked Up — seems to be determined to find the absolutely worst projects (The Ugly Truth, Killers) she and her agent or managers can get their hands on. Because without her, I wouldn’t be here typing away at how much I hated this film.
Oh, you would like to know my reasons? Well, let me count the ways:
1.) One For The Money stars Heigl as Stephanie Plum, an unemployed, broke New Jersey native — complete with the terrible accent that one would see in an SNL sketch spoofing terrible accents — who stumbles and bumbles into her cousin’s bail bondsmen business.
2.) Her first case involves trying to bring an ex-cop (Jason O’Mara, Terra Nova) who may or may have not killed a drug dealer (he didn’t) who jumped bail. By a strange turn of events, it turns out that he had taken Plum’s virginity. The “sparks” fly during the running time of the film in a “will they or will not they?” conundrum that answers that very question before the thirty minute mark (they do). Now, in order for this crappy plot to work, the two leads need to have a chemistry so electric that it would make Benjamin Franklin take his kite indoors for fear of being shocked to death. Heigl and O’Mara have ZERO CHEMISTRY together.
3.) Plum carries her own investigation of the drug dealer’s death that takes her into the seedy underworld that is populated with only the swarthy of minorities, that include a completely misused John Leguizamo as the Latino guy who pretends to be trustworthy but isn’t. (If only the lily white Plum knew about Latino guys! Quick, get Newt Gingrich on the phone to give her some pointers!)
4.) During the course of the investigation, it becomes apparent that Plum is an idiot. And not just any idiot. She’s an idiot because she’s a girl. Why would her gender matter? Because the men (including Rescue Me‘s Daniel Sunjata, who appears as her mentor) not only point it out every time they pop up on screen, they prove their own thesis by saving her ass in every single action sequences. So, their thesis becomes the film’s thesis: girls can’t do anything — I mean, anything — without the help of men.
Now, why would a film whose central character is a woman, based on a novel that was written by a woman, which was adapted by three women, and then directed by a woman make the its main thesis that girls are stupid? There is no logical explanation I can think of that doesn’t involve contempt. Case in point:
5.) During the tiresome cat-and-mouse game/bubbling “romance” between Heigl and O’Mara’s characters, O’Mara tracks Heigl to her apartment, where she’s taking a shower. He rips down the shower curtain, revealing a strategically nude Heigl (meaning: side-boobs and lots of thigh), handcuffs her to the curtain railing and leaves her there so he could make a getaway.
In the real world, this act is considered to be a sexual assault. Instead, the film treats it like a joke. So, according to One For The Money, it’s okay for a man to break into a woman’s apartment while she showers, see her naked, handcuff her, then run away like a punk bitch. Now, there are countless other horendous acts that occur in the film — like a man blowing up in a car bombing meant for Heigl’s Plum — that are simply considered to be throw away jokes in a film that doesn’t have the finesse to call itself a “dark comedy” a la Midnight Run or anything Frank Oz has directed, but the sexual assault really takes the despicable cake.
One For The Money may be the most anti-women film since the awful remake of The Wicker Man — and that had some insane camp value thanks for a f***-awful performance by Nicolas Cage. One For The Money doesn’t even have that going for it, though a very dumb and weird turn by legendary actress Debbie Reynolds — doing what I think was a terrible Snooki impression — comes pretty close. But it’s not worth the price of admission.
One for the Money
Starring: Katherine Heigl, Jason O’Mara and Daniel Sunjata
Directed by: Julie Anne Robinson
Screenplay by: Stacy Sherman, Karen Ray
Release Date: January 27, 2012